06/26/2013 09:41 am ET Updated Aug 26, 2013

How Twitter Can Help You Get Into College (and Even Pay for It)

Did you know Twitter was the world's fastest-growing social media platform in 2012?

And if you're a college-bound student, did you know Twitter can actually help you in the college admissions process?

Fact is, Twitter can help students get financial aid and increase your chances of being accepted into the college of your choice.

But as with anything in social media, you have to know where to look, how to sort through the mindless chatter, and how to drill down to the core information that will help the most.

Let's start here:

Getting Financial Aid

There are so many scholarships out there, and many of them are hard to track down.

Thankfully, Twitter is a quick and easy way to home in on people and organizations that give out scholarships.

The first and easiest thing you can do is follow the #scholarship hashtag. By doing so, you'll be fed scholarship-related tweets by students, teachers, academic professionals, and even scholarship providers.

Not all #scholarship tweets will be goldmines, but you never know when one can be. But more importantly, following this hashtag will make the act of finding and getting scholarships a top-of-mind priority because it will be in front of your eyes on a regular basis.

After a while, you will start to notice who in the Twittersphere is tweeting the most valuable information on a regular basis. Follow them. Then check out who they are following and see if they are doing the same.

Keep "going down the Twitter tunnel" and soon you may find a range of scholarship resources from places you wouldn't have imagined.

Next up:

Improving Chances of Acceptance

A recent study by Bloomfield College showed that Twitter is the second most popular social media outlet used by college admissions officials.

It's also the fastest growing form of social media used by them.

Universities' admission officials actively use Twitter to send out information that is helpful to prospective students who are following the school.

For example, they will tweet about deadlines for application, dates of campus tours, information on transfers, etc.

Staying on top of these things will improve your ability to meet important deadlines. The information universities tweet can also be a deciding factor on whether you are more or less interested in attending.

Don't be concerned that admissions officials at one university will see that you are actively following other universities on Twitter. They use Twitter to send out information to followers, not to engage them.

But that doesn't mean that they won't see your online profiles.

It's a given that many college admissions officials attempt to look up a prospective student's Facebook page prior to acceptance. It's easy to assume that Twitter is no different.

Because the stakes are so high, do not tweet anything that casts you in a negative light, such as photos of underage drinking, poor grammar, and general immaturity. It could backfire on you, and it's not worth the risk.

So instead of tweeting things that could jeopardize your chances of acceptance, do the opposite. Post photos of awards you have won and places you are volunteering. Tweet about time spent studying and filing out college applications.

In other words, use Twitter simply to put your best foot forward.

Scott Weingold is the publisher of and also co-founder and a principal of College Planning Network, LLC - the nation's largest college admissions and financial aid planning firm. Scott has been ranked the #1 "College Financial Aid Expert Worth Knowing About" in the U.S. by, and he co-authored the book, "The Real Secret To Paying For College"